The Leadership Blog

Decisive Brilliance: 8 Expert Tips for Making Better Decisions

courageous leadership decision making leadership Jun 02, 2024

Decision-making is at the heart of leadership. The choices you make, make YOU.  You can propel your organization forward or steer it off course. To help you hone your decision-making skills, I’ve compiled eight tips, backed by insights from Harvard Business Review (HBR) and inspired by wisdom from renowned leaders. Let's dive into these strategies that can transform the way you make decisions.

  1. Define the Decision Clearly

As Stephen R. Covey, author of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," famously said, “Begin with the end in mind.” Clearly defining the decision, you need to make is crucial. According to HBR, having a clear understanding of what you are deciding ensures that your focus is on the right problem and prevents unnecessary complications. I think this is the hardest part of decision making.  We often don’t define what decision we’re making.  I’m guilty sometimes of moving too fast and trying to roll multiple issues up into one decision which rarely works my friend.  Can you relate?

  1. Gather Relevant Information

“Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine,” said Peter Sondergaard of Gartner Research. Gathering relevant information is a cornerstone of good decision-making. HBR advises leaders to seek out diverse sources of data and viewpoints to form a well-rounded perspective on the issue at hand. It took me a while to fall in love with making data driven decisions but once I started relying on the data, the decision making got easier.

  1. Identify Alternatives

As Thomas Edison put it, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Identifying a range of alternatives can open up new pathways to success. HBR suggests brainstorming multiple solutions to a problem, which can lead to innovative approaches and prevent tunnel vision.  My team will tell you; I LOVE brainstorming.  I find it exciting and incredibly creative.

  1. Weigh the Evidence

Steve Jobs said, "Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice," Weighing the evidence involves evaluating the pros and cons of each alternative. Here’s where I have gone wrong in the past.  When I’ve ignored my instincts and gone along with a team members’ idea even though my gut told me it was wrong.  That doesn’t mean it’s not good to implement other’s ideas, it’s just wrong when your instincts tell you it’s NOT a good idea.  HBR recommends a balanced approach, considering both quantitative data and qualitative insights to make an informed choice.

  1. Choose Among Alternatives

Look, I made it all the way to number five before sharing a tip from my mentor, leadership expert John Maxwell.  He said, “Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.” After weighing the evidence, it’s time to make a decision. HBR highlights the importance of decisiveness, encouraging leaders to commit to their choice and prepare to act on it.  This is where experience comes in.  The older and wiser I get the more decisive I’ve become with making decisions.  Getting older really does mean getting better.  Or at least it can if you’ve been focused on your personal growth.

  1. Take Action

As Walt Disney famously said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” I’m all about doing.  I hate having tons of meetings just to say we’ve met.  If you can easily put it in an email, there’s no need to have a meeting. Taking action is where decision-making translates into results. HBR emphasizes the importance of implementing your decision with clarity and purpose, ensuring that all team members are aligned and informed.

  1. Review Your Decision

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts,” said Winston Churchill. Reviewing the outcomes of your decision is critical. HBR advises conducting a post-decision analysis to learn what worked, what didn’t, and how future decisions can be improved. 

  1. Learn from the Feedback

Oprah Winfrey once said, “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” Learning from feedback is essential for growth. HBR suggests creating a feedback loop where insights from the review process are used to refine decision-making skills and enhance future performance.

Making good decisions is a blend of art and science. By incorporating these eight tips from Harvard Business Review and drawing inspiration from leadership legends, you can elevate your decision-making prowess. Remember, every decision is an opportunity to learn and grow, shaping not just the future of your organization but also your journey as a leader.

As you navigate the complexities of leadership, keep these strategies in mind. Define your decisions clearly, gather and weigh information diligently, explore alternatives, and take decisive action. Review your outcomes and embrace feedback to continuously improve. With these tools in your arsenal, you'll be well-equipped to make sound decisions that drive success and innovation. Happy decision-making my friend!